Delkin to provide an XQD card option

Following Micron’s decision to close down its Lexar division last June and subsequently selling the brand to Longsys (see previous article), there has been a great deal of uncertainty regarding the future of Lexar XQD cards. At the time it was thought that Longsys would be able to produce the cards using their own flash memory, but that hasn’t been possible because it later transpired that Lexar's licence agreement with Sony wasn’t transferrable as it was tied to a Micron flash contract. As a result we’ve had a year where sourcing XQD cards has been difficult, bordering on impossible. A few people, including myself, took advantage of the situation at the time and were able to purchase Lexar XQD cards at substantially discounted prices, but once those stocks were gone that was it. Lexar are keen to resume production, but are being prevented from doing so by the terms of their agreement.

So for quite a few months now there’s been a problem and with Lexar side-lined there’s been no choice as Sony were, and strictly speaking still are, the only supplier of the XQD card format. But that situation is about to change as Delkin Devices are just about to announce the launch of a Premium 2933x XQD card that should start shipping towards the end of October. Presumably they’ve secured a licence from Sony whereas Lexar haven’t been able do so under the Longsys agreement. Delkin actually touch on this issue in the announcement, which is due to be made on Tuesday, by confirming “as not all memory manufacturers are authorised to produce and sell XQD, Delkin is grateful for the opportunity to provide consumers another choice”.

Delkin XQD cards

Although the ‘read' and ‘write' speeds of these new cards offer no advantage over the Sony G series or indeed the Lexar’s 2933x model if it was available, there may be other benefits of choosing to go with Delkin. Firstly they make a big point about how the cards have been developed and tested, and that they will be built to the highest standards with every card having its own unique serial number for identification, security and warranty purposes. Secondly, and linked to the card’s serial number, they are effectively extending their “Lifetime Warranty” by including a built-in insurance policy which is a "48 hour, no-questions-asked replacement guarantee”. It is supposed to cover any event that results in damage to the card. Whilst that assurance could influence whether to choose Delkin over Sony, I guess that for most of us it will be a case of what cards are available and at what cost.

So that’s the current situation. I really hope that Lexar manage to find a solution to their problem, but in the meantime it’s good to know that Delkin are going to be producing the format so that consumers have at least two brands to choose from in the future.

I can't believe that this is my third weblog post just about XQD cards. That certainly wasn't something I envisaged when I published the original article entitled 'D850 memory cards and related issues' last year, but as the problems with supply developed I felt I had to write a follow-up article regarding the 'Lexar XQD memory cards' situation. Hopefully it will be a while before I feel compelled to write more on the subject. In the meantime though I thought it would be useful to summarise the current situation as I understand it for each of the companies I've specifically mentioned in these various articles.

Sony logo

Sony have been producing and developing XQD cards since January 2012. They were the first company to adopt the format and, as far as I'm aware, are the company that effectively holds the associated patents and controls the licensing agreement. There are two models available in the current range :

>  Sony G series (read 440MB/s, write 400MB/s) - 32GB, 64GB, 128GB & 256GB
>  Sony M series (read 440MB/s, write 150MB/s) - 32GB, 64GB & 128GB

Delkin logo

It’s interesting to note that Delkin Devices is the largest American memory card manufacturer. I didn't appreciated that fact, which is why I was surprised by the announcement. They will offer a card with specifications that match the Sony G series and the Lexar Professional XQD card if it was available.

>  Delkin Premium 2933x (read 440MB/s, write 400MB/s) - 64GB, 120GB & 240GB

Lexar logo

Previously a division of Micron Technology, the Lexar brand and trademark rights are now owned by Longsys, a China-based flash memory company. Recent announcements confirm that the brand is being re-launched, but unfortunately includes the statement “due to an unforeseen memory constraint from our XQD technology partners, we’ve had to delay production of the Lexar Professional 2933x XQD 2.0 card until further notice. We are trying our best to minimise the delay as much as possible and are searching for a cost-effective plan for our XQD technology to perform at its best to meet our customer’s demand”. This is a sad situation because, like Sony, Lexar have been producing XQD cards since early 2012. If the problems get resolved they would resume production of the currently listed model :

>  Lexar Professional 2933x (read 440MB/s, write 400MB/s) - 16GB, 32GB, 64GB & 128GB

ProGrade logo

ProGrade Digital, the California-based company formed by ex-Lexar employees in February 2018, has officially confirmed that they will not be venturing into the XQD market as they want to concentrate their efforts on producing an alternative format that would have the potential of replacing both XQD and CFast.

SanDisk logo

SanDisk, a subsidiary of Western Digital, is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of flash memory and, consequently, it has always been a possibility that they would produce XQD cards but, probably due to the licensing problems, it hasn't happened.

Tony - ‘tickspics’
Sunday, 19th August 2018

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